Melbourne United have survived an impressive comeback from the Adelaide 36ers to claim a tight 82-73 win in the NBL Cup.
United appeared set for victory after powering to an early 26-point lead at John Cain Arena on Thursday night but Adelaide clawed their way back to set up a nail-biting finish.
It took the steady play of Mitch McCarron (18 points, 11 rebounds, three steals) and some key baskets from embattled import Scotty Hopson (14 points) to secure United's eighth win of the season.
Melbourne won the opening quarter 31-8 but Daniel Johnson (14 points, eight rebounds) and Josh Giddey (13 points, eight rebounds) fuelled an admirable Sixers fightback that saw the margin cut to four inside the final minute.
Coaching in his 200th NBL game, Dean Vickerman was pleased to see United start well after failing to win the opening quarter of their previous two NBL Cup games.
"It wasn't a massive focus but it was about making sure we were locked in defensively ... when you hold a team to eight points in a quarter, you are doing a lot of good things," Vickerman said.
Melbourne's dominant start was built on the back of solid teamwork at both ends of the floor with eight players hitting the scoresheet while holding Adelaide to three-of-16 shooting with six turnovers.
United's 23-point advantage after one quarter fell one point shy of Brisbane's record for the largest quarter-time lead in a 40-minute NBL match.
"All in all we fought back which should be the story of this game, I'm proud of the fellas for doing that," Sixers coach Connor Henry said.
"We wrestled the tempo finally back to our control and then we were able to keep it close throughout the third (quarter) and into the fourth."
Showing maturity beyond his years, the 18-year-old Giddey inspired Adelaide's fightback in the second quarter as he steered the offence and added two triples to see United's advantage cut to 47-34 by halftime.
A 9-4 start to the third quarter left the Sixers eight points down before a run of six points from Hopson helped settle Melbourne as they held a 64-52 edge into the final stanza.
Three fourth-quarter triples from Jeremy Kendle breathed hope into Adelaide's chances of stealing victory but McCarron leadership kept United in control at the finish.
The match ended on a dramatic note with Sixers import Tony Crocker ejected in the closing seconds after picking up a second unsportsmanlike foul that saw Jack White pick up a nasty finger injury.
It was Melbourne's second NBL Cup victory but the Sixers also took away three points for winning three quarters following their horror start to the match.